MONTPELIER, Vt.-A pre-conference hearing has been set between Vermont State Employees CU (VSECU) and the state's Department of Financial Regulation, which is contesting the CU's use of the words "bank" and "banking."

VSECU CEO Steve Post said the Aug. 22 meeting will be "truly administrative work" during which lawyers for both sides discuss their cases and evidence with the hearing officers in order to determine how long the case is expected to take. Post noted that while no date has yet been set for a formal hearing, "our guess is that the DFR will want to move this quickly to a hearing to get a resolution."

The DFR has indicated that the formal hearing will likely begin the following week.

 

Keeping Members Up To Date

The 48,000-member, $599-million credit union has turned to its members for support, including posting notices on its website and social media profiles to keep members abreast of the situation. Additionally, Post has written an op-ed for the local paper (though at press time it had not yet been published) and the conflict between VSECU and the DFR has been highlighted on statewide television news and the blog VT Digger, which Post called "a very active surveyor of Vermont's mood."

But while the membership-as well as others in the region who are VSECU members-has been supportive, Post said that the credit union will largely not be involved in the upcoming pre-conference hearing. "I'll be there along with our legal team to meet and be able to talk about what has to happen or to conduct the hearing itself, but there won't be any arguing or evidence or content really around the issue being presented in August."

While communication from members and the community "has ranged from ridicule of the DFR...to people taking a very reasoned approach to analyzing the situation and offering support," VSECU is also receiving support from members of the Occupy movement in Burlington, where one member was recently elected to the board of Vermont FCU.

'Democratic & Transparent'

"We're appreciative of any support we get and we're pretty familiar with...the Occupy group," said Post. "I think for us it's not all that unusual. We've really prided ourselves over the years of being democratic and transparent and visible to our members. What we're doing now is not really different for us."

Eric Davis, the Occupy member who was recently elected to the board of Vermont FCU to the VFCU board, is also a member at VSECU. Some members of the Occupy group plan to attend the hearing in preparation for larger turnout once the formal hearing begins.

Post said VSECU has not heard from the DFR since its cease-and-desist order was issued, but said that was normal for this process. "We're engaged with it every day, our members are engaged with it and the media is following it very closely," he said. "We think we've identified the issues here and we've seen the DFR take their position. We think it's linked to the [Vermont Bankers Association] and all of that stuff is visible now, so we're locked into the process."

 

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Subscribers can read a related story by going to www.cujournal.com and search the following headline:Where Can't Members Do Any 'Banking'? Apparently Vermont - July 23

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